What’s for Dinner Today?

(Recipe adapted from Greek Cookery: 300 Traditional Recipes. Athens, 1996)

Tonight was the first time I’ve ever cooked Pastitsio. This is usually my mother-in-law’s dish. She always cooks it when we visit or when she visits us. And yes, she does refer to it as “her” Pastitsio. Don’t mess with that! She’s never given me her recipe and I’ve never asked. However, my Pastitsio – a la my Greek recipe bible –  turned out very well, I’m proud to say, much to the delight of hubby!

Pasitisio is a great meal to make if you’re expecting a lot of people. You can easily double the recipe for a dinner party. It also makes a great left-over stored in the fridge for a few days. My only warning about making Pastitsio is that it is a five pot meal. I counted each pot as I made it tonight: one for the tomato sauce, one for the spaghetti, one for the bechamel, one to warm the milk for the bechamel, and one to cook the pastitsio in. But you can’t go wrong. The recipe is very straightforward. I might suggest that you start with the tomato/meat sauce, then cook the spaghetti, and, once those are in the oven dish, make the Bechamel. So here goes:

  • 500 gr. macaroni for pastitsio (or spaghetti)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • Salt, pepper
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup grated parmasan or mitzithra cheese
  • Bechamel sauce (see below)
  • Tomato sauce with meat (see below)

Bring plenty of salted water to a boil. As soon as it reaches the boiling point, put in the macaroni and stir from time to time. When the macaroni is done, drain it. Put half in a baking dish, sprinkle half the grated cheese over it and cover with meat sauce. Then add the rest of the macaroni, sprinkle with cheese again and pour the melted butter over it. Top the pastitsio with a layer of Bechamel sauce, to which the eggs have been added. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the top and bake in a moderate oven (350 degrees) for about 40 minutes.

Bechamel Sauce

  • 4 cups hot milk
  • 8 tbsps flour
  • 3 tbsps butter or margarine
  • Salt, pepper
  • Pinch of nutmeg

Melt the butter in a small pot, add the flour and stir well with a wooden spoon. Turn the heat down very low and add the hot milk, little by little, stirring constantly to keep the flour from forming lumps. Let the sauce thicken, stirring continually. Add the salt, pepper and nutmeg.


  1. When the sauce has thickened remove it from the heat and gradually stir in two beaten eggs.
  2. If the sauce is to be used for pastitsio, stir in 1/2 – 1 cup grated cheese (kasseri or kefalotini) at the end.

Tomato Sauce with Minced Meat

  • 500 gr. minced meat
  • 4 ripe tomatoes or 1 tin peeled tomatoes
  • 2 tbsps butter or margarine
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 demitasse cup red wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Parsley, finely chopped

Heat the butter in a pot and saute the onion lightly. Add the minced meat, saute for a few minutes longer and pour in the wine. Add the tomatoes, peeled and chopped, the bay leaf and the salt and pepper. Simmer the sauce for about 40 minutes. Ten minutes before cooking time is up, add the parsley.

Variation: Add a little stick of cinnamon and 1-2 cloves to the sauce.

Kali tikhi (good luck) and kali sas orixi (good eats)!

6 thoughts on “What’s for Dinner Today?

  1. Melody, I hope your boyfriend wants to make it. Its very good…and hey, if the man wants to cook AND do the dishes…you’ve got it made!! 🙂


  2. Isobel
    I just printed this delicious recipe for Om fares.
    I’m going to show the kids the photo so that they join me in the chorus of nagging.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s